Academic Venture Fund - 2009

Green Energy Development and Rural Community Sustainability

Green globe with buildings and trees

"Green energy" projects, such as wind farms and and biofuel agriculture, promise substantial benefits: reduced carbon emissions, energy sustainability, domestic energy security, and local economic development. These opportunities, however, may carry significant risks for rural communities, including impacts on ecological systems, land use changes, and a "boom/bust" cycle of economic development. Focusing on the Allegheny Plateau region, researchers will develop a model for assessing the sustainability of rural communities in the face of a large-scale reorientation of the nation's energy supply. The resulting framework will aid the implementation of green technology by predicting likely impacts of development—both positive and negative—and pinpointing regions with greater resilience or risk.

Investigators: Richard Stedman, Susan Riha, Susan Christopherson, Rod Howe